Disclaimers: Nothing's mine but the words; everything else belongs to Pet Fly. No infringement is intended, and I'm not makin' a dime. (Who needs money when you've got love?) (Well, okay, but I'm still not making any money!)
Summary: In which Jim tries to teach Blair how to shoot, and it turns out that Blair knows already. ;)
Warnings: None. Maybe language. I've got a fairly foul mouth, sorry.
Notes: Thanks to all of you who are liking this series; thanks to all of you who have written; please keep at it! Oh, and the way I've cut this up, its a bit bottom heavy, which I, thankfully, am not. Which is to say, part two is longer than part one. Anyway.
"Okay, then, look, Sandburg," said Jim Ellison wearily, taking the gun out of Blair's hands, "the first rule is that you can't scream and wince every time you pull the trigger, okay? Screaming and wincing is considered extremely bad form. You're pulling the trigger, you shouldn't be so damn surprised when the gun goes off."
"I hate guns! I hate them! I hate this!" Jim knew that it was taking every ounce of Blair's willpower to not stamp his feet. "Can you imagine what my mother would say? Actually, she wouldn't say anything," he said, changing tacks abruptly. "She'd just drag me off to an exorcist. In New Delhi!" added Blair heatedly. "And she'd be absolutely goddamn right!"
"Look, Chief, just take it as an exercise. Pretend you're knocking off tenured professors," Jim teased.
"I don't want to knock off tenured professors," yelled Blair humorlessly. "I don't want to knock off anybody!"
"Well, you're not," retorted Jim. "They're just bottles!" and he gestured out to the row of them out on the old wood fence. "Don't tell me your elaborate moral code also provides for the protection of glassware!" He put the gun into Blair's hands. "Here. Try again."
Blair looked at the large black gun, which felt so heavy in his hands, and sighed; he grasped the textured handle, hefted it up toward the target. "Remember, Blair," Jim said, "you just have to prove you can shoot — no one's ever going to make you shoot. Most officers go for their entire careers without ever having to fire their weapons at anyone. It's just a skill you have to have, you don't have to use it. You're an academic," he smirked, "You should understand the concept of useless knowledge."
"Funny," said Blair grimly, lining the barrel up with the first bottle. "Just cram for the test and forget it afterward, you mean."
"Exactly," said Jim.
"Well, that tells me exactly what kind of a student you were," retorted Blair, gritting his teeth as he began to pull the trigger.
"Chief — stop, stop," said Jim, and relieved, Blair immediately lowered the gun. "Now you're wincing before you even fire. Just try to relax. Just think of it, I don't know, as a sport."
"Some sport," snorted Blair.
"Just relax," said Jim. "Are you relaxed?"
"Ye-es," sang Blair back to him, tremendously irritated.
"You don't sound relaxed," replied Jim.
"Fuck you-oo," sang Blair in response.
"All right, all right," said Jim, massaging his temples, "go on, do whatever you want."
Blair raised the gun, closed his eyes, and fired, screamed, winced. The bullet flew off far to the left, and the bottles remained safe from harm for another few minutes.
"Sandburg, look, you've got to get your head around this," said Jim. "You're good at everything else — you're young, you're fit, you're coordinated. There's absolutely no reason that you can't do this. You're just not trying." And with a sudden, white-hot blast of insight, Jim heard himself and suddenly knew, and he looked at Blair and Blair saw the expression on his face and knew that Jim knew.
"Oh no," groaned Jim.
"Oh shit," murmured Blair, and he blindly thrust the gun into Jim's hands and ran back toward the cabin.
"Dammit, Sandburg!" roared Jim, holstering the gun and chasing after him, and he banged through the wooden screen door just moments after his partner did, and grabbed his arm roughly and spun him around. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"You'll make me use it — don't make me use it," begged Blair, struggling ferociously. Jim was almost knocked over by 160 muscular pounds of violent, morally outraged anthropologist. He grabbed Blair's biceps firmly and shook him.
"Communication, Sandburg," growled Jim. "Why didn't you tell me there was a thing about this?"
"Because I'm the Guide, Jim, it's my job to figure out — "
"You arrogant little shit," yelled Jim, thoroughly exasperated, pushing Blair hard up against the wall.
"Seems like old times, eh, Jim?" said Blair, staring blankly at his enraged partner.
Jim pointed a finger at his lover's face. "Don't distract me. You're the Guide, huh? — well, who the hell do you think I am? Don't you think I might have been able to help you with this? If you'd condescended to confide in me, to ask my help for a change?"
"I don't want help, I don't want to learn to control it," yelled Blair desperately. "I don't want it!" and Jim took a deep breath and stepped backward, letting go.
"Yeah," he said quietly. "That's denial. I know a lot about that too."
Blair turned and savagely kicked the wall behind him. "Chief, don't, it's not our cabin," said Jim absently. "Look, tell me about it," he said, taking Blair's arm gently and pulling him away from the wall. "This time you sit and I'll pace — we're getting into a rut."
Blair sank into the sofa and looked up. "There's nothing to tell. You know everything already."
"You can guide the bullets?" asked Jim softly, and Blair nodded.
I know I can, I just know it," said Blair despondently. "I can push them, just like I can push people. They'll go into the bottles if I want them to — into people, maybe — " He began to rise from the sofa in a panic, and Jim kneeled next to him, grasped his slim waist. "I won't do it," cried Blair. "I won't, Jim — this is where I get off the train, I swear!"
"Wait, wait, you're just working yourself up and it doesn't help," said Jim firmly. "Trust me on that much."
"Jim, what the hell kind of talent is this? The other stuff — the communications, the visions — I understood that, they're all about information, prevention. Not killing people! I'm a shaman, not a warrior — what is this, some kind of hunting instinct, some — "
"Primitive genetic throwback?" asked Jim wryly.
"That's not funny," said Blair.
"I didn't think so either," said Jim.
"Look, throw it back in my teeth later," said Blair, leaning forward. "Right now — help me," he said, meeting Jim's eyes. "Please. I'm asking, okay? I'm sorry."
"Okay," said Jim. "Look, maybe you're thinking about this the wrong way," he said, sitting back on the floor. "I mean, look, the way you've explained this, the Guide is sort of the original reserve officer — Sentinel back-up. So most of what you can do is informational and preventative, like you said. Generally I have the warrior skills, the protector skills. But after all, we've found that I can heal you — and that would make more sense the other way around in the paradigm, don't you think?"
"You'd think," said Blair, "but that hasn't been our experience — I'm the one who gets hurt all the time."
"Yeah, well, so maybe we shouldn't second guess the system," said Jim. "You're a shaman, but you're also a guide, which puts you into dangerous situations where a shaman wouldn't normally be, and so the system has accounted for that, given me the ability to heal you if something happens. Plus one hell of a compulsion to protect you."
"So its instinctive, not voluntary?" teased Blair.
"It's both and you know it. Look, even if I hated you, I'd throw myself in front of a moving truck to protect you, so its just as well that I'd want to throw myself in front of a truck anyway. I'm going under that truck one way or the other," he sighed, "so I might as well have some happy memories when my life flashes before my eyes."
"That's so sweet."
"Shut up. So I have this healing skill, a nurturing skill — maybe this is your warrior skill: maybe it's to help you protect me in some way, to fight for me if you need to."
"Do you think?" asked Blair worriedly, and Jim smiled.
"Are you really asking what I think?" responded Jim sarcastically. "God, you must be feeling awful."
"I do, I do Jim, I feel awful," said Blair so sincerely that Jim laughed..
"You're a hoot, babe, you know that?"
"You shut up. I don't know about this theory, though," said Blair, frowning. "Guides didn't have guns, this is all a-historical, out of context. What exactly is the skill here? Not firing guns, no guns to be fired."
"I haven't got perfect aim. I don't get my keys into the basket half the time."
"Maybe you're not trying," said Jim. "There's nothing at stake there — maybe your guide instinct isn't kicking in."
"I guess that could be true. I'm missing something, though," said Blair. meditatively. "I'm not putting something together, here, and its driving me nuts."
"Well come on, let's go out and try it," said Jim. "If you've got it, there's no point in denying it. You might as well learn to control it — it could mean not killing someone, think of it that way."
Blair narrowed his eyes, hooked a thumb in the belt loop of his jeans, and considered. "Are you," he said softly, almost dangerously, "suggesting experiments?"
"Turnabout is fair play," said Jim, getting up. "Come on," and Blair made a face but reluctantly allowed Jim to haul him up off the sofa and out through the door.
"Look, at least we now know where we are with this thing," said Jim, as they walked back toward the makeshift firing range. "We're safe here, no one's around for miles. You should feel free to let go, to see what you can do."
"I don't like it," said Blair. "I mean, look, I was prepared to learn to shoot — I wasn't prepared, well — "
"To be good at it?" finished Jim, and Blair nodded.
"Yeah. It's seriously messing with my head. I don't want to hit anything or anyone. But nature, man," he said, taking the gun from Jim's hands, "well, nature's got other ideas." He sighed, lifted the gun toward the targets. Then stopped. "Am I really arrogant?" he asked Jim concernedly.
Jim smiled. "You can be arrogant. What really makes you a pain in the ass is that you're pretty much entitled to be. If I were you, there'd be no talking to me. I'd be impossible."
"I really am sorry," said Blair, sincerely, and Jim bent his head and dropped a quick kiss on the side of his mouth.
"Now shut up and shoot," said Jim. Blair raised the gun again, and felt a sudden flood of panic as the urge rose within him to push the bullets, and his chest tightened painfully and Jim responded to the wave of anxiety and stepped behind him and placed his hands gently, reassuringly, on Blair's hips and Blair let out a deep breath and his mind went suddenly blank and BANG-CRASH! BANG-CRASH! BANG-CRASH! the bottles exploded one by one. When Blair lowered the gun he was hyperventilating and ashen; his hand shook and Jim took his wrist and pulled the gun from his fingers.
"Easy...easy," soothed Jim. "Sit — just sit down," and Blair shivered and let Jim ease him down on to the grass.
"Oh shit," breathed Blair, "oh shit, oh shit," and Jim sat down next to him and Blair felt dizzy and lay on his side, closed his eyes. Jim spooned up behind him and hugged him reassuringly, wrapping his arms protectively around his partner's broad, solid shoulders.
"It's all right, its all right," Jim murmured into his ear.
"I feel sick," said Blair.
"You're okay, you're going to be okay," replied Jim, softly.
"Jim, I don't know if I can hack this," said Blair.
"You can hack it, you can hack anything," said Jim firmly.
"Man, I wish I had your confidence in me," said Blair, and Jim sat up and looked down at him.
"You're my guide," said Jim simply.
Blair rolled on to his back and stared up. "The guide doesn't like this," he said. "The guide is seriously unhappy, here, Jim."
"How did it feel?" asked Jim.
"That's the scary thing," said Blair, closing his eyes again as his stomach clenched. "It feels good, it feels easy. Natural. Right."
"Maybe...maybe you shouldn't fight it," suggested Jim tentatively.
"It's just — its just ripping me apart," said Blair, staring up at the sky. "Conflicting impulses, you know? Let go, don't let go — it hurts."
"I hear that," said Jim, lips twisting into an ironic smile. "Now you know what it feels like to be me. Nature vs. culture," he mused. "Instinct vs. upbringing."
"How can firing a gun be natural," said Blair angrily, sitting up.
"Nature isn't always pleasant," said Jim. "The jungle isn't, well, civilized. Obviously."
"I know that," sighed Blair, running a hand through his hair. "I do know that."
"Look, I don't know about you, but I'm learning to go with nature, myself," said Jim. "With the Sentinel thing. With you," he added softly. "I would never have..." He stopped, sighed. "I'm learning to trust what I feel, everything else be dammed, you know?"
Blair leaned forward and kissed him, sliding a hand to the back of his neck. He opened his mouth, let Jim's tongue slide in to taste him, and then let Jim push him backwards onto the grass and hover over him, tongue-fucking his mouth.
When Jim pulled his head back, trailing his tongue across Blair's upper lip as he withdrew, Blair looked up at him with dark eyes. "I'd kill for you," he said. "I'd die for you."
"That's not what I want," said Jim. "You have a moral principle at stake, here: I do see that. I don't want you to feel pushed into something you're not ready for, something that you don't want."
"Pushed," mused Blair, leaning up on his elbows — and then he met Jim's eyes. "That's it, isn't it? It's all pushing."
"What are you talking about?" asked Jim.
"Everything that's happened," said Blair, sitting up. "Pushing. Pushing bullets, pushing people — even pushing words — I mean, that's what I do when I talk to you. From far away. I just — I push my words at you, and you hear them, wherever you are. It's all the same skill, don't you see?"
"I guess," said Jim.
"That's it," repeated Blair. "Jim, if that's true..." He stopped, and Jim could practically see the wheels spinning.
"Well, then that's good," replied Blair, scratching his arm distractedly. "I mean, so far I haven't been able to push people into doing things that are bad, or into doing things that they don't really want to do. That's what made me think of it — what you just said about me feeling pushed into doing something I don't want to do. If this is just more pushing — if its all the same skill — well, then maybe it follows the same rules. Maybe its all tied in with my moral sense, and not separate from it."
"I never quite understand what you mean when you say 'push'," confessed Jim.
"Yeah, I know, its hard to explain. I don't know if I can articulate it," sighed Blair.
"Well, if you can't articulate it, then it can't be articulated," replied Jim.
Blair smiled. "It's like — it's like a boost." He groaned, pounded the ground with his fist, fumbled for words. "Like — like you know where things are supposed to go, and you just, well, push them to get there. It's like putting oil on a track — you can't change tracks, but you can make the car slide faster, easier.. Oh, I'm not being clear, dammit!"
"It's okay, go on, you're doing fine," said Jim, listening intently.
"Arrrgggh," Blair arrrggghed, " — you just make things go where they really want to go anyway. You facilitate. You speed up the inevitable — speed the teleology — you make it happen on your timetable. You power it up. You force the issue." Blair sighed again. "This sounds horribly anthropomorphic, but the bullets want to go into the bottles. So you sort of give them permission to do so. My words... well, my words want to go to you." He smiled. "All of me generally wants to go to you, you're like a magnet for me, always have been. People — well most people really know what to do deep down. They want to do the right thing. They just don't because they're fucked up. So you push them."
"So what you're saying, basically," said Jim, "is that you're a guide. You guide people and things to their rightful, natural ends."
"Well, yeah," said Blair in mock irritation, "if you want to get all simple about it. I hate you, Ellison," he added, savagely, smirking at his own stupidity.
"I loathe you too, Sandburg," replied Jim, reaching out tenderly for a handful of hair.
"Kiss me again, you asshole," said Blair, moving closer, and Jim moved his lips lightly over Blair's face.
"I've always hated you," murmured Jim, gently nuzzling the pulse point behind Blair's ear, feeling Blair's soft curls brushing against his face, breathing in Blair's musky smell. "I hated you from the moment I laid eyes on you. I just didn't know how to deal with it, so I repressed it."
"Same here," whispered Blair, reaching to caress Jim's face. "I thought, 'Who is this schmuck? and doesn't he have a great ass?'"
"Mmmm," agreed Jim. "I thought you were totally annoying, and wondered if you were well hung."
"And?" said Blair.
"Well, you are totally annoying — ow, hey! Kidding!" he yelled, wincing as Sandburg cuffed him.
"That's below the belt, man," said Sandburg grinning.
"Thanks, I don't need a map," said Jim, pushing Blair backwards onto the grass. "I'm not that repressed."
"Thank God for that," said Blair as Jim unbuttoned his jeans and pulled down the zipper.
"You know," said Jim conversationally as he pulled Blair's jeans and underwear down over his hips, "it's nice being outside. Maybe we should get a place for weekends."
"Oh man, I'm dying here and you want to talk real estate!"
"Seriously, what do you think? We could probably afford it once you start working."
"What, I'm not working now? I'm eating bonbons and watching Oprah?"
"Working for money, you know what I mean — don't be tetchy."
"Jim, this is making me tetchy, here," moaned Blair. "You want me not to be tetchy, then don't make me tetchy."
"Oh yeah?" teased Jim, pulling back to sit on his haunches. "Well, maybe someone needs to learn some patience."
"Oh Jim, I can't," said Blair, closing his eyes and reaching down to finger the head of his cock. He heard Jim's gasp, felt desire flooding his partner, and his eyes shot open wide with surprise. "You like this?" he asked softly, touching himself more deliberately.
"I — ohhh," said Jim, breathing shallowly.
"You like this," murmured Blair. "You like to watch me." He brought his hand to his lips slowly, licked his fingertips one by one, then his palm, then returned his hand to his cock and trailed his fingers sensuously up and down his erection, holding Jim's eyes all the while. "Why didn't you say something?"
Jim opened his mouth as if to speak, then closed it and shook his head.
"You should tell me these things," whispered Blair. "You can tell me — anything." He curled his hand into a fist and arched up into it; his other hand slid up his torso and found his nipple ring. He pulled at it in time with his next stroke and gasped, arched harder, tugged harder, lost in the pleasure he was giving himself, the erotic pleasure he knew he was giving Jim.
Jim reached down to grab his cock through his pants, convulsed and came hard, lost in the image of the beautiful boy lying on the grass touching his own beautiful body under the bright summer sun. He struggled for breath, relieved at his orgasm, and watched Blair bring himself off — watched the muscular body stiffen and shudder, the moist lips part, the eyes close as his lover cried out softly and shot pulsing streams of semen over his hand. Jim shivered, watching as Blair gently milked himself dry, then he reached for Blair's hands and gently licked the come off his fingers — bent his head and kissed the come off Blair's stomach.
Blair lazily reached down to caress Jim's head, then tugged gently until Jim moved to lay next to him.
"Communication, Ellison," he teased softly. "Why didn't you tell me you had a thing about this?"
"Because you're the Guide," replied Jim, smiling. "And its your job to figure it out."
"It's okay to have kinks, you know," said Blair earnestly, running a hand over Jim's face. "So long as they all revolve around me. I'm an arrogant little shit," he explained, "and I won't be two-timed."
"I wouldn't worry about it, if I were you," murmured Ellison.
"Good. Otherwise I'll push you under a truck." He turned on his side, leaned on an elbow. "Seriously, Jim, you should try to talk to me a little about this. About sex," he said, trying to encourage Ellison to be explicit. "If you like to watch me touch myself — I will," he said, and put a hand on Ellison's chest as he saw his lover suddenly shudder. "There's lots of things we can do," Blair added. "You just have to tell me what you like."
"I like you," said Jim.
"I like you, too," said Blair, sitting up and struggling to pull up and zip his pants. "That's a given," he said, and he fished in his jeans pocket for a hair tie.
"I find it hard to say," Jim admitted, watching as his partner gathered his hair in one hand and tied it back at the nape of his neck.
"I know," said Blair, smiling. "I'll have to see about training you to talk dirty."
"You make everything seem so easy," said Jim.
"Well, I don't have a lot of sexual issues," acknowledged Blair. "I have violence issues — got a bushel of those."
"Violence, I can do," said Jim, sitting up. "Unfortunately." He grinned. "I'm pretty all-American, there."
"Yippee-ki-yay," said Blair.
"I like your hair," said Jim suddenly.
"Well, that's a start," said Blair. He leaned in close to Ellison. "Do you want to come in my hair?" he said softly.
"Jesus, Blair!" choked Jim.
"Do you?" asked Blair, knowing immediately from Jim's reaction that he did.
"I — "
"I can't," hissed Jim.
"Try. Say it."
"I....I...I want to come in your hair," Jim murmured, closing his eyes, trying to get control of himself. Finally, exhaling a long breath, he let himself look at his partner. "You'd let me?"
Blair stared at him incredulously, covered his face with his hands and shook his head. "Man, I don't get it. I just told you I'd kill for you — you don't think I'd let you come in my hair? That is just so fucked up. I'm here, on a goddamn firing range, learning to blow people away — with the full approval, by the way, of our entire social circle — Blair Sandburg: American hero — and I let you come in my hair and I'm some sort of perv?" He raised his hands in a gesture of surrender. "Like, whatever, okay, but I say its fucked up."
"You're right, it's fucked up," said Jim, frowning.
"And there you go," said Blair. He plucked a long blade of grass, put it into his mouth. "Were you serious about wanting to get a house?"
"Yeah," said Jim. "I like being outside. I like being outside with you," he added. "Like this. It feels...right."
"Well, okay, let me get employed first, and then we'll see what I get after taxes," mused Blair, chewing the blade.
"There's the beach, too," said Jim, after a moment.
"I like the sound of the ocean," said Blair, "but trust me, man: sex on the beach is no fun. Don't listen to what anyone tells you — they're lying."
"Hmmmm," said Jim, considering. "Surfing. Sex with you. Surfing," he said, weighing his options. "All right, I guess that's a no-brainer."
"A chafed guide is an unhappy guide," said Blair firmly.
"Words to live by," said Jim, getting up. "I'll have them tattooed on my forehead." He extended a hand down to Blair. "Come on," he said, "I need a shower, and then I'll barbecue us something."
"God, not burgers, please. I've had so much red meat this weekend, I'm starting to moo," said Blair, getting up.
"Now, you be nice," said Jim..
"I'm always nice to you," said Blair.
"You're okay," said Jim, turning toward the cabin.
"I'm okay?" sputtered Blair. "Okay?!" Suddenly he realized he was being teased and smacked Jim's shoulder. "You really are an asshole, do you know that?"
"Yes," said Jim and grinned happily.